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Posted by Caryn Colgan | Feb 14, 2010

Organic Vs. Conventional Gardening

Pesticides and other commercial products harm the environment and our health.

With organic produce more popular than ever before, learning the difference between organic and conventional gardening is helpful. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. Conventional gardening methods typically require less time because the gardener uses chemical pesticides, weed-killers and fertilizers to make the garden grow pest-free and weed-free. These chemical products are readily available and reasonably inexpensive. Applying the products is relatively quick and easy. Since conventional gardening practices are common, many gardeners can grow a garden with little training or education.

The Dangers of 'Conventional' Gardening

However, chemical garden additives can be harmful to human health, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in addition to wreaking havoc on the environment. Insects and animals are also negatively impacted by the use of pesticides. Herbicides have been implicated as having harmful effects on human health, the environment and wildlife.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a term used to describe the sudden death and disappearance of up to 90% of some beekeepers' hives. Honeybees are an integral part of the world's food chain, and without them some scientists project a devastating impact to the world food system. Some theories suggest that pesticide leads to the impairment of the bees' immune system and is contributing to the decline in the bee population.

What Organic Entails

According to Organic Gardening Magazine, "...organic gardeners don't use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their plants. But gardening organically is much more than what you don't do... An organic gardener strives to work in harmony with natural systems and to minimize and continually replenish any resources the garden consumes."

To grow a garden organically generally requires some effort to learn proper methods. It is more complicated than buying a bottle of pesticide or herbicide. This learning curve can discourage some would-be organic gardeners. But with a little time and determination, the aspiring organic gardener can read books or attend a local class or lecture to learn the basics.

Organic gardening is more than simply avoiding unnatural additives. Organic methods begin with the soil. Compost (made of decomposed organic matter) is added to the soil instead of commercially available soil products. Organic gardeners may opt to make their own compost by placing fruit and vegetable matter in a composting bin or receptacle. By doing this, they control the purity of their compost.

Compost is ready for use in the garden when it is dark brown and has a crumbly texture and sweet, earthy aroma. Work it into the existing soil to fertilize the plants and aerate the soil. Add it as a mulch to prevent weeds and hold moisture in the soil.

Using natural products to repel insects and control weeds may take more time, but the rewards are worth it. With so many potentially devastating implications of conventional gardening methods, organic gardening is easy by comparison. The best advantage is that you can feed organic produce to your family and pets knowing that nothing in the food is unhealthy and that it is free of harmful chemicals. Additionally, the environment, including honeybees, will not be negatively impacted.

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